Air Force defends stopover: Trump's Scotland hotel was the cheapest around

The Air Force defended a March stopover in Scotland that included a stay for crew members at a Trump resort, saying on Saturday it was "the closest available and least expensive accommodations."

The stay at Trump Turnberry for crew members en route to Kuwait attracted the attention of the Democratic-led House Oversight Commitee, which sent a letter requesting documents to acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan in June.

"The stopover of a U.S. Air Force C-17 in Glasgow, Scotland is not unusual. Every two and half minutes an Air Force transport aircraft takes off or lands somewhere around the globe," Brig. Gen. Ed Thomas said in a statement. "As our aircrews serve on these international airlift missions, they follow strict guidelines on contracting for hotel accommodations and all expenditures of taxpayer dollars."

FILE - Donald Trump makes a speech at his revamped Trump Turnberry golf course in Turnberry Scotland Friday June 24, 2016. (Andrew Milligan/PA via AP)

"In this case, they made reservations through the Defense Travel System and used the closest available and least expensive accommodations to the airfield within the crews’ allowable hotel rates," Thomas continued.

He said the crew stayed at a Marriott hotel on the way back, and that they got a cheaper rate of $136 at Trump Turnberry compared to $161 at the Marriott property. The per diem rate is capped at $166.

He also said the Air Force had not found anything improper regarding the Trump Turnberry stay but is still reviewing the records.

House Oversight's letter said the Defense Department has purchased roughly $11 million in fuel from Prestwick Airport, the closest airport to Trump Turnberry, since October 2017. The letter paints purchases from the struggling airport as a tactic to keep Trump's resort afloat by ensuring there is access to air travel nearby. The letter also cited a report that Trump Turnberry has yet to turn a profit.

House Democrats are also investigating Vice President Mike Pence's decision to stay at President Trump's golf resort in Doonbeg, Ireland, about a week ago, claiming the move could have possibly violated the Constitution's emoluments clause.